Andy Martin, For The Miami Student

Students bike through Spain with the Oviedo study abroad program. (CONTRIBUTED BY ROBERT DIDONATO)

Students and professors alike are excited to share their stories of Miami University’s recently founded study abroad program in Oviedo, Spain.

Having ended their first spring and summer terms quite successfully, Robert DiDonato and Jose Manuel Dominguez-Burdalo, the two faculty members that set up the program, are already looking forward to students signing up to go abroad for spring semester 2012.

DiDonato said the program gives students a chance to fully “experience the culture of Spain from the ground up.” With full immersion into not only the language, but also the culture of Spain, students had the opportunity to live there a full spring term, or visit during the summer term for about five weeks.

The program consists of students living in an Oviedo household while taking classes taught by both Miami professors and Oviedo University’s faculty. Classes are taught at Oviedo University’s Casa de las Lenguas, with a variety of courses based around not just Spanish majors, but business majors as well. This means that while knowing an advanced level of Spanish is important, junior Laurie Jacob, who participated in both the spring and summer terms, stated that classes at Oviedo will do much more than simply improve Spanish speaking skills.

For last year’s spring term, 22 students signed up and for the summer term, 17 students traveled to Oviedo, including sophomore Sarah Kruse who, like Jacob, did both.

“The experience of getting to live with a host family and experience Spanish life and culture first-hand made a huge difference in my learning experience,” Kruse said. “Just living in a foreign country and partaking in their culture and language can give one an entirely new outlook on the world.”

While education and learning is an important part of this program, something DiDonato referred to as a “learning adventure vacation,” there is a nice treat for the students at the end of the summer term. Jacob expounded on a 10 day trip where students get to follow The Pilgrims Road to Santiago de Compostela.

“The pilgrimage at the end was my favorite part. We had to talk to the villagers as we went and it was difficult at times, but the stories some shared and the view of the Santiago Cathedral was so worth it,” Jacob said.

The whole point of the program is to immerse Miami students fully into the language and culture of Spain, but also have the security of experiencing Oviedo with peers and an organized program.

“It was really nice being with other Miami students, but another great thing was Oviedo’s diverse mix of cultures,” Jacob said. “It wasn’t just Spaniards.”

To get involved and sign up for the Oviedo program, a sophomore standing or higher is required, as well as the completion of Spanish 311. The program’s tuition fee is around $5,380. Interested students should contact David Motta in the Spanish and Portuguese Department located in Irvin Hall.